Agence France Presse
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific terrorist attack today at a Catholic church in Normandy, France,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“Today after the death of this priest I am thinking of all the Catholics of France” – French President Francois Hollande
“Horrible violence has occurred in a church – a sacred place where we pronounce God’s love – the barbaric murder of a priest ” – The Vatican
‘Amaq News Agency of the Islamic State (IS) reported that the attack at the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy, France, was carried out by “two soldiers of the Islamic State”.
Daily Mail reports that “Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a ‘merciless’ response to the killing while ‘horrified’ ex-Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he feared ‘everything is being done to trigger a war of religions’. “
And this is who they come for.
Not the one’s in their bed this Tuesday morning – – though that’s where I was and they would certainly take us too- – but the practicing.
This was certainly a press killing- broadcast across the globe for what it signifies- the merciless death of an elderly priest as he said daily mass (at 84, the priest was 65 years his killer’s senior).
This is who they come for.
The living breathing believing examples that by their existence defy the embodiment of these living breathing human grenades. ISIS and it’s maniacal henchman only live and only breathe until the moment they can rupture in ecstasy for their cause, taking as many souls- or, as in the case of Tuesday morning- take the right kind of soul- with them.
And after years of our quiet reactions to the systematic murders of any and all dissenters in the Middle East, ISIS turns it’s snake eyes of persecution upon Western shores. Tuesday morning was one swoop of an ax felled as part of a religious massacre that will take down humans as a lumberjack systematically lops trees from their trunks.
ISIS massacres; they do not have the infrastructure of a concentration camps to burn the bodies but there have been quiet smokestacks filling the sky that hangs above the Middle East for years now. The Holy Land is littered with violence as Christians, Muslims, defectors, locals, tribes and nomads are quietly desecrated and in-dignified and slaughtered.
And on it goes and I don’t know why I wrote this except it’s haunting isn’t it? And I don’t know what else to say except please do not say things like close down the mosques. I cannot think of something more disrespectful to the men and women in our military, fighting for freedoms that we spit on with sentences like that.
The mosques will- and should- stay open. And in those discussions the only thing that we should consider shutting is our mouth. There are many things we should close our mouths about. I leave that to your conscience. Mine has it’s hands full.
But not about all things. We should not close our mouths or shut our eyes to religious persecution, which has reached the shores of France as surely as it inspired one man to unload an assault rifle on a hazy Miami night. As surely as it has stained the floors of altars in the Middle East for a decade now.
ISIS claims responsibility. Let the mimicry follow. It will be in churches.
And what can we do?
Mourn. Because it happened and as humans one small tiny thing we can do in the face of the no good very bad things, the ones that make us sick to chew over.. is to chew them over anyways. To read about them, to know the names, to feel the deaths and learn what we can from the lives.
Allow yourself to feel fear- the kind that does not paralyze or immobilize but does realize- this is who they come for. The civilians. The military deaths are only a bonus. They come for you and me and your grandfather. They come for the weak and elderly and the young; the far too young and always, always they come for the unprepared.
Refuse to compromise on principle.
Cherish, now more than ever, the freedom of religion which keeps open all mosques and temples and churches on this shore.
If there comes a time that we find ourselves with the urge to think or say, “shut down the mosques”, say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Father Jacques Hamel instead.
There are only war crimes here. There are only crimes against humanity. There are only crimes against God.
There are only words like Paris, Brussels, Nice, Miami.
There is only terrorism and countries with government scrambling to fight it.
Late? Probably. The best they know how? Probably.
And remember: It is a certain person who orchestrates and celebrates – not only death- but this type of death, for there are many ways to leave this world and it matters when humans decide that this will be another’s.
As France has realized, ISIS can only be stopped in one way. And they must be stopped.